Milton Police Sgt. Charles Barstow leaves for a 10-day mission trip to Ngamba, Africa, on June 18. Barstow, who has been with Milton's Public Safety Department since it began, will make the journey through his church, North Point Community Church.
According to Barstow, each year North Point hosts a program called GlobalX, which involves mission and service events around the globe. Barstow had heard of the program many times before but was hesitant in the past.
"It was one of those things that had been at the back of my mind for a long time and I always had excuses," said the veteran officer. "Never enough time off from work, not enough money."
But this year was different. After listening to a moving sermon, "Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone," by North Point's Andy Stanley, Barstow began to seriously consider going on a mission trip.
"After Andy's sermon, the idea moved to the forefront. Then when I was challenged by my men's Bible study group, I knew I was ready," said Barstow. "I took Andy's advice and picked a place that I thought would be the farthest outside of my comfort zone."
This will be the first mission trip for Barstow but hopefully not his last. He will travel with 22 other men and women to the Southeast corner of Kenya where they will help people in the local village get water by assisting with irrigation and possibly digging a well.
"The biggest thing I want to accomplish with this trip is kind of a testimony of my faith," said Barstow. "I also want to show that even though America is in economic crisis, we are still a consistently giving country regardless of our circumstances."
Barstow is both nervous and excited about his upcoming journey. "I'm elated and nervous at the same time. I'm excited about going, excited about being able to show my faith and beliefs through my actions but the nervous aspect is the unknown," said Barstow.
"I'm most nervous about my nonstop flight from Atlanta to Nairobi," he jokes.
Barstow hopes that sharing his story publicly will show Public Safety officials in a different light.
"We have a tendency to see police officers as authoritative, inflexible people who may or may not care. Fortunately or unfortunately, we have to keep that facade to stay safe," said Barstow. "But beyond that, we're regular people who care about the community and the world."